Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Secret Agent #17

GENRE: Middle-Grade Adventure

To Those Unlucky Enough To Come Upon These Cursed Pages,

First of all, burn them, feed them to a hungry goat, dissolve them in a vat of acid, but for all that is well and holy: do not read them! Stop now, or damn your eyes!

You obviously have not stopped.

If you feel you must continue reading then you should know that nothing good will come of it. This manuscript contains the true account of what really happened on July 13th, 1865 at the address of 117 Broadway, New York, and recounts in lurid and flagrant detail the conflagration that consumed that most glorious of Manhattan institutions: Barnum’s American Museum.

In my vocation as a crime reporter for the New York Tribune, I had the misfortune to occupy an office on the corner of Ann Street and Broadway, the windows of which looked immediately onto the Museum across the street.

This story is compiled from the eyewitnesses of myself (and others, who shall not be named), interviews with the involved parties, and investigations into the event using the powers of deduction for which I am greatly renowned and appreciated.

In doing so I uncovered a fiendish plot, an otherworldly secret, and brought a world of suffering cascading down upon myself.

I have been in hiding from the dark and murderous forces at work against me. I feel that death will soon be at my door. Alas, I hear it knocking. Really.


H.B. Fennimore – Author. Detective. Gentleman. (New York, 1865)


  1. The voice on this is excellent! One tiny bump was the word "Really." I think simply, "Alas, I hear it knocking" is more true to voice and more resonant. "Really" seems a bit out of character.

  2. Agreed, the 'Really.' doesn't seem to fit. Otherwise, I love it!

    As much as I'm a sucker for the 'don't read these pages, you'll be doomed' kind of opening (and I do love them), I always find myself wondering. If the reader is doomed, why in the world did the writer pen the pages in the first place? Seems a bit...contrived. I might just suggest maybe giving a reason why they were written, if the words are so cursed?

    Just a thought. I did love the voice. Good luck!

  3. The voice is excellent but I don't you if this is necessary for the story. It's labeled as MG but this is obviously not written by a young character. Also, the use of damn in a MG book made me pause.

  4. Great voice and I love a warning not to read when I'm obviously going to ignore it.

    I agree that the 'really' is out of place and it would be better to leave it out.

  5. I love it! I'd definately read more. I'm curious if the book's MC will be the author of the letter, or some 'unlucky' person who came across it.

  6. Well, this is a poser. An MG book written from the POV of an adult? I'm game but I'm not sure it will fly in terms of acceptance. I hope it would since I find some of the "rules" as to what you MUST have for YA and MG books ridiculous. For example, can anyone argue that the Hardy Boys is MG and not YA? Yet, you hear time and time again that if it is MG you CANNOT, MUST NOT have the MC's be older than 13 or 14. Yet the Hardy Boys were 17 and 18 and the delight of 8 year old and 1o year old boys everywhere. So, I say go for it. I like the don't read the pages warning - but cut it....don't say, obvioulsy you didn't stop etc...just carry on..I love it so far and I will be signing up to read more :)

  7. The voice is cool, but it reads a lot like Lemony Snicket's. Not that it's a bad thing. Just make sure that your manuscript does read differently, and that you're bringing something different to the morbid storyteller voice.

    Good Luck!

  8. I'm in agreement with Arielle on this one: very Lemony Snicket-esque. I don't think it's a bad thing, either. I wouldn't worry at all about this opening being from the POV of a much older person as long as--as it is with Snicket--the MC(s) is/are relateable to your audience.

    Good luck! This sounds fun.

  9. I like this one. I agree about 'really,' but I think most kids would be into this. I like how it plays on our curiosity, and I would read on. :)

  10. I'm with the others- a good voice that sounds very Lemony Snicketish, so you better have a solid compelling story to follow up what seems to be a familiar prologue.

    We don't see that in these 250 pages, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

  11. I like the voice of this historical piece. Just finished reading The Alienist by Caleb Carr which was set in 1896 lower Manhattan, so am intrigued.

    Liked the opening of burn them, feed them to a goat was fun but raises the question of why write it down if anyone else who reads it may suffer misfortune. Curious if the story's told through the reporter or if a kid finds the papers and does some investigating of his/her own. Would like to read more. I think kids would like this but it may be YA rather than MG.

  12. Love the voice, and I want to keep reading--despite the promise of dire consequences! I haven't read Lemony Snickett in a long time, but until I read others' comments, I didn't note a similarity between the two narrative voices. V. cute and smart so far.

  13. Really. As if we didn't already believe him. They are coming after him. Really.

    I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. I love the voice and I love that he doesn't want us to read. But the warning stops too soon. He gives up. I'd put more warnings on this if it really is dangerous.

    But now I've got to know what he saw!